“An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, ‘What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?’ Among the four choices were, ‘Strong Leader,’ ‘Shares Your Values,’ ‘Has A Vision for the Future,’ and ‘Cares about People.’ Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost ‘Cares About People’ by 81-18%. That says it all.”
“Behind the failures of Republican campaigns lies an attitude that is administrative rather than combative. It focuses on policies rather than politics. It is more comfortable with budgets and pie charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponents’ policies. When Republicans do mention victims they are frequently small business owners and other ‘job creators’ – people who in the eyes of most Americans are rich.
“To counter the Democrat attacks on them as defenders of the comfortable and afflicters of the weak, Republicans really have only one answer: This is a misunderstanding. Look at the facts. We’re not that bad. On the infrequent occasions when they actually take the battle to their accusers, Republicans will say: That’s divisive. It’s class warfare.
“Even if voters were able to ‘look at the facts,’ these are not exactly inspiring responses. They are defensive, and they are whiny, and also complicated. Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. But even more troublesome is the fact that responses like this require additional information and lengthy explanations to make sense. Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.”
“The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys, the oppressors of women, children, minorities and the middle class, that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy. You can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do.”
“Republicans seem to think the way to inspire hope is by offering voters practical solutions, such as Paul Ryan’s plan to balance the budget. Paul Ryan is a smart conservative and the Ryan Plan is probably a good one. But with control only of the House, Republicans had no chance of implementing it when they voted on it. Worse, in the real world of political combat, facing an unscrupulous opposition, a plan offered by a party with no means of implementing it is a self-inflicted wound. You can’t put the plan into effect to show that it works, and no one besides policy wonks is going to even begin to understand it. All the plan does is provide the spinners with multiple targets to shoot at – something they will do by distorting the specifics and ignoring the plan itself. For virtually all voters, the plan will be so complicated and its details so obscure that it will remain invisible. Only those who already trust its designers will be persuaded that this is a reason to vote for them.”
“The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.”
From the outrages he let Barack Obama get away with to the stunning ineptitude of his campaign team, Mitt Romney holds plenty of blame for last week’s dispiriting presidential election. But he’s not the only one, and before we do something stupid like surrender on immigration in a shortsighted bid to woo Hispanics, the Right needs to have a little chat about another key voting bloc that should have been far easier to hold…but wasn’t, for reasons conservatives seem unwilling to discuss.
The single most shocking detail about the results was the pitiful Republican turnout, with Romney receiving 3 million fewer GOP votes than John McCain and 5 million fewer than George W. Bush — a difference that could have overcome Tuesday’s 3-million-person difference in the popular vote or made up the 333,000 additional votes necessary for an Electoral College win.
Yes, Romney’s conservatism was imperfect. But so was Bush’s. And McCain? He was so liberal that, to keep him away from the nomination and ensure a conservative made it on the ballot, the punditocracy told us we had to rally around…Mitt Romney.
So how could Romney — who, for all his flaws, took most of the right positions, had an appealing background, and didn’t share Bush or McCain’s zeal for amnesty — possibly be less palatable than either of his moderate predecessors? Especially while trying to unseat someone widely considered to be the worst, most left-wing president in US history?
A big part of the answer is because somewhere between GOP presidential primaries, half the Right flip-flopped on Romney, recasting their onetime conservative alternative as the new RINO boogeyman we needed an alternative from, with scores of pundits, activists, and bloggers ranting that an amorphous party “establishment” was trying to force Romney on the base. Yes, politics is a tough business and primaries are the place for aggressively vetting our candidates, but far too many of our own crossed the line from “Romney is weak in area x” to “Romney is our enemy.”
Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said they’d focus on congressional races because Romney wasn’t worth their members’ excitement. Sen. Rick Santorum suggested Romney might not be different enough from Obama to bother changing presidents. Talk radio host Mark Levin excoriated Romney daily, calling him a corporatist of questionable character who couldn’t be supported in the primary without compromising all of one’s principles. Blogger Dan Riehl considered organizing conservatives to oppose Romney in the general election. Free Republic banned all Romney supporters as “enemies of the Constitution.” Blogger John Hawkins warned that supporting Romney would require conservatives to “sell our souls.” RedState.com waged an all-out war against Romney and his sympathizers, the most hysterical examples of which being Erick Erickson’s claim that nominating the bad Mormon would kill conservatism and Thomas Crown’s accusation that National Review “alienated” itself from the conservative movement by preferring Romney to the alternatives. Conservative stalwarts like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got torn apart as phonies in popular comment sections for backing Romney. And last month, Personhood USA used an unfair spin on Romney’s words as evidence that he was “insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand.”
Fast-forward to Election Day, and 5 million Republican voters decide to stay home.
Gee, who could have guessed? (I mean, besides me.)
Again, we shouldn’t completely absolve Romney of responsibility. As the candidate, it was his job to assure the base he could walk the walk. Nor should Romney’s shortcomings have gone ignored or unchallenged during the primary.
But with so many influential conservative voices doing everything they could to convince their audiences that Romney was just Diet Obama and that he posed an existential threat to their very philosophy, is it any wonder that so many of them decided not to vote? How is any post-primary coalescing supposed to fully heal divisions that deep? How are Republican candidates supposed to endure two-front wars against Democrats and their own base?
Rather than protect the integrity of the Republican ticket, Levin, Erickson, Perkins, and company served as useful idiots for the Left, dividing conservatives enough for a weak incumbent with indefensible ideas and hated policies to keep power for another four years. And now we’re all going to suffer for it.
It goes without saying that for 2016, we’ll need to find a candidate with bolder instincts, a deeper affinity for conservatism, and greater skill in articulating it. But by the time his own failings and impurities come to light, hopefully Obama’s second term will have taught our Purity Police that a little perspective can make a world of difference.
“The tea party is not going to coalesce around Romney,” Judson Phillips told The Daily Caller on Thursday. “Most of us will vote for Romney, but we will not be out there with signs for him or in his campaign.”Phillips said that surveys conducted on the Tea Party Nation website have shown that about 25 percent of tea party activists say they won’t vote for Romney in the general election […]“While that number will change as we get closer to the election, Romney has a huge problem with the conservative base of the GOP,” Phillips said. “He had better do something about that ASAP or he won’t have to worry about that moving to the middle nonsense. Without the GOP base, he is a lost cause.”“Most of us,” he added, “are focusing on Senate and House races now.”Another conservative leader, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, struck a similar note after former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the presidential race this week.“It’s difficult for us to back a candidate our constituents don’t believe in and aren’t excited about,” Perkins told CNN, suggesting that social conservatives will instead focus their efforts on helping Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate in 2012.